Meet Baker Damiano Carrara, Competing in Spring Baking Championship

Get to know Damiano Carrara, one of the eight bakers competing in Spring Baking Championship on Food Network.

Photo by: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Emile Wamsteker, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eight bakers have entered the Spring Baking Championship for a chance to win the title and earn $50,000 in prize money. Each one brings a unique talent to the competition. Some are professional pastry chefs, while others are culinary arts instructors, competitive bakers or self-trained bakers. This new series gives them the opportunity to show their skills on national television.

Before tuning in for the premiere on Sunday, April 26 at 9|8c, get to know the bakers. Every day leading up to the first episode we'll be revealing a Q&A with one of the eight.

Originally from Lucca, Italy, Damiano Carrara (Moorpark, Calif.) and his brother Massimiliano left for California to follow their dreams to open an Italian pasticceria. They've since expanded their operations and now run pastry shops in Moorpark and Agoura Hills, Calif. Damiano's passion is creating quality products using the finest ingredients, and making customers feel a part of his family.

What's your first memory involving baking?

When I first started my company, my brother used to teach me how to make cream puffs, and I was not good at it.

What's the first thing you learned to bake really well?

Cream puffs and torta della nonna.

What would you say is your signature baked item, one that everyone knows you for?

Torta della nonna. It's a double-crust pie filled with vanilla custard and topped with almonds and pine nuts.

If you could bake only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Torta della nonna.

What's your favorite ingredient or item to use in your baking?

Madagascar vanilla beans.

What's your favorite holiday to bake for? What do you typically make?

Christmas. A fruit or chocolate log.

Who is (or was) your baking mentor? What's the No. 1 thing that person taught you?

My brother Massimiliano. He always taught me to follow recipes and utilize perfect techniques to bake and mix.

When it comes to baking, how would you describe your style, your mentality?

Fresh, modern and traditional Italian recipes.

If you could bake a cake for anyone (alive or dead), who would it be and what would you make?

I would make for my dad a rum-soaked pan di Spagna filled with fresh cream and fruit.

What's the biggest baking fail you've ever had that you're willing to admit to? Were you able to rescue it, or did you have to start from scratch?

I don't really have one.

In your opinion, what's the No. 1 mistake that most home bakers make?

Not being able to work in the right environment with the right equipment and ingredients.

What are five tips or words of advice you'd give to beginner bakers to improve on their baking?

1. Learn how to hold and use a pastry bag.

2. Make sure you use your scale for every ingredient.

3. Technique.

4. Study all your ingredients.

5. Learn your oven.

Baking Quickfire (name your favorite for each)
Cake/cupcake: Torta paradiso
Pie/tart: Fruit tart
Cookie: Biscotti
Quick bread: Scone
Yeast bread: Ciabatta
Pastry: Profiterole
Muffin: n/a
Savory baked item: Valdostana

Keep coming back to FN Dish for more on the bakers, and visit the Spring Baking Championship page for more on the new series, including behind-the-scenes galleries, episode recaps, video highlights and baking tips.

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